Episode 221: Comedian Andrew Stanley makes being funny simple

Comedian Andrew Stanley sits down with Rusty to share tips on navigating a career in comedy and how you can find the funny in your own life..

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Intro/Outro: Welcome to Leading Simple with Rusty George. Our goal is to make following Jesus and leading others a bit more simple. Here's your host, Rusty.

Rusty George: Hey, welcome to Leading Simple. So glad you're joining us for our episode 221, our conversation with a comedian, Andrew Stanley. I wanna thank our sponsor, Serve HQ for sponsoring the show. What an incredible, _incredible_ organization this is that serves so many churches. If you lead a church or work in a church, Please check out servehq.church because they provide such great opportunities for your leaders to be able to receive training on their time. You can upload your own training videos or you can even use some of the ones they've created, how to teach someone to lead a Bible study, how to properly usher somebody, pass communion trays, receive offering, work with students, incredible opportunities for people to learn and all from the ease and comfort of their personal schedule and place. So check out servehq.church.

Well, today we get a chance to hear from a guy that you've probably heard about, his dad or his grandpa. But Andrew Stanley is the son of Sandra and Andy Stanley and then he's the grandson of Dr. Charles Stanley. He is very similar to his dad and his grandfather in that he does communicate from a stage. The difference is he works at night and he works as a comedian. He did not take the traditional path at his father and his grandfather did of being a pastor, but rather he chose to be a standup comedian.

How, how do you get into that line of work? What makes you make that choice and what's the anatomy of telling a good joke? Every one of us who communicates, whether it's in a room full of people or a car full of people, or just people around a dinner table. We'd like to be able to have a good punchline. We'd like to say something that was compelling and funny, and we're gonna break all that down as I nerd out on comedy with Andrew Stanley. Well, I think you're gonna love it. So here we go: my conversation with standup comedian Andrew Stanley.

Andrew Stanley, thank you so much for joining us. For our listeners who don't know who you are, give us 90 seconds on who you are and your story.

Andrew Stanley: Oh, sure. Thank you Rusty, for having me on. Um, I'm Andrew Stanley. I'm a standup comedian. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I started doing standup as a hobby in the summer of 2016. Just doing open mics while I was a budget analyst at, you know, corporate finance job, and started to get a- a real addiction to it to where I was working all day, the cubicle and going out and doing open mics at night and started to get some cool opportunities, some through hard work and many through nepotism, , , that had led to me getting to do a bunch of shows in other states.

, and so I was using all my vacation days to do standup, and then I ran out somewhere in 2018 and said, All. I'm just gonna be a comedian now. So I quit my job and have been full-time, stand up since October of 2018 and, and doing, you know, traveling around the country every month. And it's, it's been a blast and, , We gotta do some cool stuff.

Rusty George: At any point during the pandemic, did you think, Boy, I made the wrong decision?

Andrew Stanley: Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I remember thinking, Man, thank goodness I didn't wait another year to quit my job because I would've then quit and immediately had to stop. Yeah, at least I had all of 2019 to build a runway and get some momentum.

That thankfully was enough to kind of carry me through the pandemic. I mean, you know better than anybody, and people that work in churches felt this probably even more heavily than I did, but it was taking events that were planned and trying to figure out can we still do them in a newer, safe way or do we just postpone them? If we postpone them, how long? Um, and so I did a lot of virtual events that had been previously scheduled as in person events and did some virtual events that just kind of appeared outta nowhere cause everybody was home and bored. I did, I was performing, I was saying yes to everything. I never said yes so much. I was, yeah. I performed at virtual wine tastings, um, I mean, I was, it was all over the place, but, you know, it was, it was a cool way to have to figure out a new way to do something and seeing other comedians figure out, "Hey, this isn't ideal, but here are some ways we can still do what we love and still make it work even if it's not the same" was really cool and it was. Um, I'm glad, I'm certainly glad that that's not still going on, but. It, I think it was a good challenge for a lot of people. It forced us to be a little more creative.

Rusty George: Yeah. I mean, I, I watched some of those during the pandemic and they- they were fine. I just, I felt the pain of the comedian trying to be funny and not knowing, are people laughing?

How much time do I give before I move on to the next joke? What did you learn through that?

Andrew Stanley: Yeah, you gotta learn. You really gotta- you really just got power through because you're so used as a comedian and as a pastor too, I'm sure to a degree. You're so used to getting feedback and kind of knowing where you're at.

Mm-hmm. and knowing, okay, this is going well, or Hey, I'm not really connecting with him for some reason. Let me try something else. And so you kinda lose all your data of like mm-hmm. , you know, you normally, you're- you say something and you take the feedback and then you go based on that, but instead you just kind of have to unload.

And like you mentioned, normally in a standup show you would say a joke, then pause, wait for them to finish laughing and move on to the next one. But when you can't hear if people are laughing or not, you just kind of have to decide how long you deserve based on the joke, um, which is uncomfortable. Yeah, and I mean, for most of mine, Thankfully, a lot of them, and I started really encouraging people to do this, was, Hey, if it's gonna be live, let's really encourage people to treat this like a Zoom meeting. But they're gonna be still be a respectful audience where their camera's on and their microphone is up, and, , at least you get some feedback, even if there's a little bit of a delay. At least you're, it's kind of a give and take with the audience and not just a, Here, let me say all the words to my jokes.

I had a few, I think, , one time, especially right here in my room where I'm sitting now, , an organization just sent a cameraman to my house and was like, All right, you just do the jokes to the camera and then, we'll, our event is in a month, so we'll just play it. Oh, no. And so they sent a camera guy and I just had to do like 30 minutes of jokes.

To just the camera and this camera guy and I had done a few where it was just me to my computer, which I learned is better because the camera guy is trying not to laugh. , he's back there trying to be a bad audience member, basically just by not, you know, he doesn't want the audience to hear him behind there or shake the camera or whatever.

So not only. is it? No one's laughing. There's somebody who's actively trying to not laugh, . So there was lots of moments like that where I was just like, What am I doing? But , we grow from all of it, I think.

Rusty George: Yes. What does it kill you? Makes you stronger, right? Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned nepotism. I gotta ask you, , for those of you are listening who aren't putting all this together, you are the son.

Andy Stanley, the grandson of Dr. Charles Stanley. , what was that like growing up under that microscope? Um, and did that affect, , your choices, , whether or not to go into

Andrew Stanley: standup? Um, I don't think it affected me going into standup, and I can circle back to that, but I mean, people ask, have asked me that question my whole life, even before I was doing standup, as.

You know, you grow up in this preacher family, what is that like? And my answer, especially as a kid was like, Well, that's the only way I know. So I don't really know how to describe what it's like, but looking back, especially growing up, I think it helped a lot that my dad grew up with a famous preacher dad, and so he was probably uniquely equipped to parent in a way.

You know, he knows what it feels like to be in our shoes to a pretty large degree. So he made it about as easy on us as I think anyone could. And I don't know, you'd have to ask him exactly what that looks like day to day, but I never felt any overwhelming pressure to, to pursue ministry professionally from them.

Um, I think it did make me want to behave better probably. I, I'm kind of a people pleaser by nature, so I think knowing that. I represented not just myself and not just God as a Christian, but also my family, who people look at as, you know, from all different angles. Some people hate pastors, some people think they're perfect.

Some people like pastors but don't like my dad. And so to represent, to represent him and our family as a whole and kind of feel, you know, there's probably some pressure there, but if, if anything that pressure just made me probably make wiser decisions. It, I always say there were way more, um, pros than cons to all of that.

Rusty George: So your dad is not a, , he's, he's not a controversial person. He's not a, a lightning rod, but he does say things that people take issue with. So have you ever lost a gig because of something that he said? ?

Andrew Stanley: Oh man, I don't know. , no one's ever given that as a reason. Oh, okay. I didn't know if somebody

Rusty George: called you up.

Andrew Stanley: Yeah. I wish I would love to text my dad and tell him how much money he owes me, , , for losing me a gig. She's like, Yeah, it's one church. Just they only read the Old Testament, so they, That's that. I could come,

Rusty George: It's a

Andrew Stanley: synagogue. Yeah. Yeah. I guess that's what that would be . Yeah. It turns out that exists.

Yeah. , No, I mean, I don't have, I've had some people maybe make an offhand comment or something, but nothing that ever bothered me or made me feel like I was being treated unfairly or anything like that, but Right. I do like to go read his Twitter comments sometimes, and it's, sometimes I have to restrain myself from responding to some, some pretty wild people.

But, , man, he's really good about not letting that stuff affect him, and so it's never felt very heavy to us.

Rusty George: Yeah, I think that's good. Yeah, he seems like he lets it roll off pretty easily. Okay. So yeah, let, let me ask you this. , most pastors, , fancy themselves as a, um, A version of a comedian, I can tell a joke.

And obviously we all grew up with the really canned jokes. I've told them we've heard 'em, but then there's pastors that just try to be funny. What mistakes do pastors, , make the most when they're trying to be funny on stage?

Andrew Stanley: Hmm, that's a good question. , it's probably a lot of the same mistakes that comedians make when they're new.

Um, and I, I talk to pastors a lot cuz I perform in churches a lot and it's kind of, if you're not funny to your friends, then you're probably not gonna be very funny on stage unless you put a lot of effort into it because some people are just naturally funny and we all know those people that they can say something that's not funny, but because they're the ones that said it, it just is funny.

Yeah. And there's no real math behind that. It's just they're just. Charismatic in a way that makes people wanna laugh at what they say and they say things funny. And so if you're that person, then you kind of just get away with anything and it's, , a little more effortless. I think for those of us that don't feel that way, you have to really be intentional about writing jokes and planning your moments.

More so than somebody that's just gonna, it's the funny's gonna find its way the surface, even if they're not trying. So I think that the more you wire your brain to be looking for jokes all the time, the more sometimes that will just bleed through naturally, even if that's not your maybe base temperament.

Um, but I'm gonna be looking for the funny, and, and pastors have an advantage in that. Any humor is a bonus and nobody's going to church saying, Well, if this pastor doesn't make me laugh today, then we're switching churches. There's no pressure. If you're not funny, just don't worry about it, but because you don't need it.

But it is a great tool in any type of communication to draw people in and to relate to people and to kind of naturally lower your audience's guard. To maybe then be able to, so they'll then be able to hear something really important that now that their guard is down, they might receive it a little more.

Um, but I don't know if there's really a bunch of common mistakes I see pastors making. Other than that, maybe if you're, if you're really gonna take a shot and make a joke, that is so obviously a joke that if it works or doesn't work, the audience will know. Because if you're just talking and, and say something and it doesn't work and you can just kind of move on, the audience isn't gonna get, Even say though, that joke failed.

But if pastors does a big ole set up and then a punchline and then waits for a laugh, then that you're kind of setting yourself up for failure. Yeah. , especially if it's your first time trying it. So I don't know if that, that was kind a rambling answer to your question.

Rusty George: No, that's, that's really good. I mean, a lot of it comes outta the overflow of our life.

So what do you tell somebody, because you know, a lot of our listeners aren't pastors. , they, you know, they, they have to talk at work. They have to lead a, , you know, a staff meeting or even just, you know, leading a small group or something like that. We all wanna be funny because we think it is disarming, , what are just some natural things to avoid, you know, obviously, Self deprecating jokes seemed to go over a little bit better.

Um, our mutual friend, Dustin Nickerson, gave me some great advice one time, and that was, don't come out punching down. Yeah. You know, don't make fun of the audience first. Make fun of yourself first. What are some natural skills that you think somebody could have in just trying to be funny and normal conversation?

Andrew Stanley: Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, self deprecating, making fun of yourself is is the safest Yeah. Thing to do because you're not gonna offend anyone other than yourself, and you can overdo it to where the audience starts to feel bad for you and they say, Oh, you're not that dumb. I mean, right. And that's the worst as a comedian, when you tried to make a joke about yourself and then instead of laughing, the audience is like, Aw.

And then you're like, All right, I went too far, or I did not set that up. I didn. It's always your fault. But, , but that is a good start and especially if you're gonna make fun of them later or make fun of something more serious or sacred later, then to have already made fun of yourself, kind of sets the tone of like, Hey, we're all friends here.

We're gonna talk, We're gonna poke fun at some stuff, but first let's poke, fund it ourselves. So to, in order to kind of get permission to be able to do that, because nobody wants somebody that's just looking down. From the top of the mountain pointing out all the imperfections below them. Mm-hmm. , first you gotta say, Hey listen, I'm not perfect.

Here's the stuff that I have noticed about myself that doesn't make any sense. So one, you're kinda, you know, you're letting the audience know, Hey, this is the kind of humor we're gonna have tonight, or what, or this morning. Um, but I think that's a really good tool. And then I think. You know, making inside jokes about whatever you and the audience have in common.

And in church it's church stuff. And that's why you see a lot of, um, like John Chris videos, especially when he was starting out, we're all, you know, if you're non-Christian friends, watch the videos. They might, some of them might not even make sense, but if you're in that world and in the club, Then it's the funniest thing in the world and it's so personal to you.

So I think making fun of the city where you are, because that's something everybody there has in common. Making fun of the church or making fun of, , and making fun is, you know, poking fun is probably better, but I mean, that's why the pastor gets an easy laugh going, oh, we have high attendance this week cuz the falcons are terrible.

Or whatev. I mean, yeah. That's so relatable to everyone because everyone. Drives past the stadium or whatever it is. Right.

Rusty George: Okay. So let's, , let's nerd out on this a little bit. As I've heard you say before, um, I am fascinated by what makes people laugh, what works, what doesn't work. But you mentioned something, I'd love to hear how you do this.

You mentioned how to look for how you start looking for the funny, um, what do you see that the rest of us don't see? You know, what are you looking for? What are you noticing? Cause sometimes you. You've seen comedians do this where they, they try to get something out of, you know, a situation and it's just not funny , but sometimes it works.

So what are you looking for? Is it just, you know, the obvious or that, does it make sense? Or, you know, like Sebastian Maniscalco says, Are you serious? Or Why would you do that? You know, what are you looking for when you're looking

Andrew Stanley: for. . Yeah, no, that's a, that's a great question. And I think when somebody decides they wanna start doing standup specifically, it's so terrifying for reasons that everybody could understand, but.

Also, you're kind of in this panic mode of, All right, I have to do five minutes of material, so I have to find five minutes of funny things. And when you're in that mode of needing material, which I think kind of come, you always need material as a comedian. But there are especially seasons where you're like, I have to have this for this, so I need to really be mining everything for potential jokes.

You kind of just start to see things through that lens a lot and. Whatever situation you're in, whether it's really happy or really sad or really. , tragic or, you know, whatever it is, your, your brain kind of becomes broken in a way that makes you try to find the funny thing before you even really process the other feelings you might have about that thing.

And, and that's when you need to keep your mouth shut in a room full of people that don't think that way because you can sound really insensitive. And I think, , you mentioned that you like the comedians and cars getting coffee and I, , I remember there was an episode with, um, Steve Harvey. I. Where they're sitting there and they're talking about, you know, after a tragedy, when is it okay to tell jokes about it?

Is it ever okay to tell jokes about it? And Steve Harvey was kind of saying, I mean, the next morning we have the jokes. But it's deciding, all right, when is an appropriate way to start to display them. , because the comedian's mind immediately goes there and it's what makes good comedians good is because they can find the funny and things that don't seem funny and mm-hmm

Um, so you're kind of always kind of have to have that filter up when you're trying to gather material. Um, and then it also depends on what type of comedy you wanna do. Like I tell a lot of stories, so for me, a lot of times it's looking back. Stuff that happened growing up or things that happened with me and my fiance going out and doing things and saying, Oh, is that, was that situation we were in?

Is that actually a story? Is. And then, you know, say this happened and then that can be a joke. And then you say, But what if this had happened? And, and, and then all of a sudden you kind of have this rabbit trail you can go down. And a lot of times where you start thinking the funny is ends up getting cut out later.

And the thing that you got three levels down the road is actually the core of the joke now. And you try to think back to where that one even came from and then you realize, oh yeah, it was from that story that I used to tell that I don't even tell anymore. But it led to. Examining this subject and got me to the thing that actually works.

So a lot of it is starting with ideas that eventually won't work, but they lead you to, to some good stuff.

Rusty George: Okay. So tell us about, , a joke that you used one time from stage and it didn't work or you discovered. . The funny is somewhere else in the joke, so. Mm-hmm. , I had to change it. So tell us kind of like, I used to tell a joke this way, but now I tell it this way.

Andrew Stanley: Yeah. And you know, really most jokes become that, and that's one of the benefits that comedians have over other communicators is that we get to do our trium a thousand times and get them to a place where, mm-hmm. , they might not, not even be recognizable from where they started and, That's kind of the job.

It's a lot of repetition and repeating and keeping the stuff that works and whittling away the stuff that doesn't and, and, um, kind of sculpting it in that way. Um, trying to think of a joke that kind of started like that. There's, um, there's one I've been telling lately about how my, um, my fiance and I went to get, These massages, and I do a bit before this about how she's much more assertive than me.

And um, and so we went to get these 30 minute chair massages. And the true story is that she was unhappy with the guy who was giving her a massage. And so she sent him back and got a different guy, , which is like the most assertive thing I'd ever seen. . And there was, there was a thing like she had gone to that place before and he had like sweat on her, so she kinda had a background.

That's the kind of stuff you kinda leave outta the joke because it's like how much backstory am I gonna give to this? But yeah, to me sitting there in the chair in the moment next to her and hearing her turn to the guy and say, You know what? I'm good. Could you please send someone else? I was just like, that's the most thing.

I would never do that in a thousand years. This is a very big difference between us. I can highlight and anytime I can find a big difference. Then that's gonna be a place where a lot of jokes are probably living, but h, To me, I originally thought the joke was she sent this guy back to the green room, like he was the wrong food at a restaurant.

She's like, The section is not what I ordered. Please go get the food that I ordered. And so I was trying it on stage kind of from that angle. But then from kind of just building some things around that I learned that the funny part of that story is not. What she did, but it's how different we are in a situation like that.

H. And I actually don't even tell the part now about her sending the guy back, but I just highlight that she was asking for different things during the massage and I was over in my chair just like I did not even know we were allowed to talk to them, and trying to kick her until her stopped talking to them.

And, and, and so it's kind of turned into this more of a. Assertive versus un assertive rather than just this thing that was really funny in the moment. Um, okay. So that's, But if that thing hadn't happened, I don't know that I would've got to where it is now. Right. You

Rusty George: wouldn't have got there. Okay. So a typical joke is there's a setup, there's the punchline, but then you can usually get a few comments off of that.

Mm-hmm. , , for instance, like you just did there about, , I would've never done that. Or it's like a, you ordered something at a restaurant or whatever. How deep can you go? You've made your punchline. How many extra laughs can you get? Is, is it the rule of three? Is it you keep going till they stop laughing?

When does it reach the law of diminishing returns? .

Andrew Stanley: Yeah. , I don't know if there's a hard and fast rule for that, because it's really just you tell the joke all these different ways and you learn where it starts to run outta steam. Yeah. And then you take a step back and, and cut it off. The rule of threes is definitely very helpful and stand up because it is the rhythm as most communicators know, that people just, it just makes sense to the human brain when you can deliver things in three sections.

And so, um, And so usually when I'm writing jokes, that's kind of how it goes. But there's also a technique in comedy of kind of getting the audience into a, a lu them into a rhythm of where they're expecting three things and then you give them four things. And that, that, that itself is enough of a surprise that it kind of re-energizes it because they're, they're like, We thought it was over.

H. And so you can, if you feel like the audience has that expectation, then you say, Okay, well how can I flip that to. Create tension and release it in a place where they didn't expect, um, you can end it at two and put the third one second and hit 'em hard when they thought you were gonna working your way up to the, the big thing.

And so that's not something that I'm sitting there writing thinking about all the time, but I think as you're trying jokes over and over, you naturally learn, Hey, it actually works better if I do it the way that this technique maybe doesn't say I should do it. The nice thing about standup is that you get so much data on all this material from going on stage every night that you don't have to wonder.

Is this the best way? You just have to try it all the different ways, and you have enough data to just kind of know case by case. Hey, let me interrupt this

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You can even automate next steps to onboard new people. Check it out@servehq.church. Now back to our convers. But you know, audiences are different too. They, there could be one night they love joke number two, but the next night they hate joke

Andrew Stanley: number two. Yeah. Yeah. And that's why it's important to get on stage a lot and it's, , you know, if I tell a joke, And it doesn't work.

But I've been doing it for two years and I know that it's, Ah, yeah, it works. Then I don't feel bad that it didn't, I know that was the audience. It's their fault. Yeah. Or I did something that I don't usually do that made it not work, which is the first thing you should think. But yeah. Um, with new jokes, you kind of take each show.

You wait it a little heavier because you have less data on that joke. But if it's something that's been in your act and you know what it, you know what it deserves because you have so much data on it, then you don't really sweat it, , unless you change something. So

Rusty George: how long does it take you to write, let's say 10 minutes of

Andrew Stanley: material?

You know, it, it's, it really just depends. It feels like sometimes you can sit there for a couple of days and you feel like you. Five or 10 new minutes and then sometimes two months go by and you're like, I have nothing that I like that I've written in the last 60 days. So it really just depends. I, and I'm constantly changing things.

So you say, All right, I have 10 new minutes. But you know, that might be unrecognizable different 10 minutes that it's changed into. Three months, three months later. And so it's really tough to measure kind of how much material you have at any given point. Cause I know I can go up there and talk for an hour and a half if I need to.

It's not all gonna be finished, good material, but I at least have that much stuff that I'm talking about. And then I say, Well, I have this amount that is proven and probably done or close to done, and then I have this amount that's kind of in development. And so it's, it's not quite as simple as that, but um, it's nice when.

When it feels like it's flowing, do you kinda

Rusty George: work the new stuff in between the old stuff that you feel better about?

Andrew Stanley: Yeah, that's usually the best way. Um, one because it's the safest because you, you make the audience like you with stuff that you know, that works and then you take some risks and then you close on something strong so they wanna remember you.

And then the middle seems to be forgotten most of the time anyway. Yeah. Um, so it's a very safe place to try stuff, but also, um, Surrounding new jokes with jokes that you have a lot of data on, then really gives you an accurate measurement for the new jokes. Because if the, if the stuff that, um, that you know, how it should do gets like more than it should, and you're like, All right, that joke is funny, but it's not as funny as this audience thought it was.

Then, you know, to maybe scale back your. You know, if the new stuff worked, you're like, All right, but also, my old stuff worked better than it should have, so, Maybe I need to take this with a grain of salt. And my new stuff was also working cuz it seemed like these, this crowd was just insanely good. Yeah.

Um, so to surround new material with old material helps you measure the new material better.

Rusty George: How do you like to end your, your set? Do you like to end with, um, your best joke? Do you like to end, like if you're getting close to your five minute limit or whatever the time limit is and you just nailed it at four?

and you think, Hmm, I could call it here and walk away, you know, with a home run , or do you just keep going or do you like to end with a callback to something you've said earlier that kind of brings it all back home?

Andrew Stanley: Yeah, there's no real right answer to that. I mean, a lot, the most popular kind of theory for comedians is to open with your second best joke and close with your best.

And then every in the middle's gonna be, h? Just whatever makes sense is, is one, because you wanna draw them in really fast, but then you wanna leave them on the highest point. Just like a, like, if you go see a concert, the last song is not gonna be a new song that no one knows. It's gonna be the one that everybody can sing along with and go home still feeling like that song made them feel.

So you, you want your, your last joke to be the one. That gets a big reaction and gets a big laugh so that you can say Thank you, goodnight while they're still laughing. Um, you know, if I'm doing five minutes then it's very different because I've, if I'm doing a show where I'm doing five minutes, it's because I'm trying new stuff and so I might save a 32nd thing for the end that I know will work just so I can not ruin, ruin the stage for the next comedian.

Because part of it is you don't. End on a new one and not work and say, All right, goodnight. You don't wanna leave the stage to silence. Um, but if I'm doing my act and, you know, I get hired to do different types of events that want me to do different amounts of time, but if I'm doing somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour, then I'll have a pretty good plan of how I'm gonna start and how I'm gonna close.

And it's very intentional knowing that I have two or three jokes that are good to close on. Mm-hmm. , , um, and making sure that. Find my way there at the right time. Yeah.

Rusty George: Okay. , tell us a couple of jokes. You don't have to do the whole joke, but a couple of jokes from other comedians and why those jokes work so well.

A couple of your favorites.

Andrew Stanley: Oh man, that is tough. Um, I mean, I think about one of Nate Brie's jokes a lot and it's, I think it's because it's the type of joke that I. Like finding the most, And it's, and if anybody doesn't know Nate, he's the, the safest bet that you'll like him. Yeah. Of any comedian I could recommend.

I mean, any, anyone listening will love Nate. He's clean, he's great. And one of the, probably one of the best comedians alive, um, but he has a bit from one of his earlier specials that the premise is that he is on a boat with his wife. And they look over and they're on their friend's boat and they look over at another boat and she goes, Oh, that's, I used to date that guy,

And Nate's like, And that just ruined my whole day. Cuz now the whole day I just gotta look over there and try to compare myself to that guy. And my wife's looking over there trying to see what her life would be like if she had gone with him, . And, and then he takes it to this place where he goes, You know, one of my friends said I should have fought him.

And I was like, you know, well, I would have had to swim to that fight. And you ever seen, you ever seen a guy in a life jacket coming at you? It's not intimidating, just swim along. Also, it's really hard to get in a boat. I would've needed his help to get on the boat. I would've just been like, I can't tell you why, but I need you to help me get on this boat.

And so he takes this moment with him and his wife, where. All she says is, I use, that's my ex-boyfriend. And then he goes through both of their thought processes on how that affected their day that she said that. And then he puts himself in a fictional situation that is hilarious visually. Mm-hmm. and conceptually.

And so he takes this little moment and turns it into, look at how this affected both of us. And then what if this happened? And that's my, to me, that's just a really enjoyable, relatable. And silly joke, which is mm-hmm. , a lot of things all packed into one story.

Rusty George: The story he tells, , again, takes a, a little piece of, of truth, which is, I don't own a gun.

I have a pocket knife on my bedside table. Yeah. . And then it turns into if somebody breaks in, I gotta push my wife out to deal with him while I learn how to use a pocket knife. Practicing in

Andrew Stanley: the corner. Yeah.

Rusty George: Practicing. I can't open it in the light, let alone in the dark. You know? It's just so brilliant.

Andrew Stanley: And he's like, she, she sleeps closer to the bed . , but that's just part of the plan. She also doesn't know that, she also doesn't know there's a plan .

Rusty George: She's gonna feel like she was pushed, but she really lunges at him. Yeah,

Andrew Stanley: it was a lunch. Oh, so good. Yeah, he's, he's, he is amazing. And so, He's a great one to, to study because he does it.

He does stand up in a way that really, it's hard to say that he's like anybody else cuz um, He just has his own unique way and he's one of those people that writes really good jokes, but also can just say something normal and, And it, yeah, just makes you laugh. Even if on paper it might not have. So he kind of has best of both worlds to me where he's, people wanna hear him say anything and he also can write hilarious jokes.

So he's, , he's a camp

Rusty George: Miss. When you say you write jokes, do you write them out word for word, manuscript style, or do you just write down an idea and kind of go up there? . I

Andrew Stanley: used to write 'em down word for word when I was new. Um, and I think that's probably how you should do it when you're new, because you need to see, you need to see the joke and have it a little more memorized.

I would be so nervous that if I didn't have it memorized, I would never get through it. Um, it helps that now if I'm doing new material, I'm not doing. 10 minutes of new material where I have to remember all of it. I'm gonna do three minutes of new material and it's gonna be sandwiched in between some stuff that I have memorized already, so.

Mm-hmm. , it's not as much that you just have to learn word for word. Um, I'm a lot more comfortable now just going on stage at a, some shows around Atlanta and doing a 10 minute set and saying in the middle I'm gonna talk about this. And I thought of a couple. Lines that I think are funny, and then I'll just kind of see how that unfolds.

And on the way there, I might practice saying it just to see how it all sounds together, but it's not as much of a script as it is. Here's some thoughts that I had and a couple of punch lines that I think should work. Um, and kind of go up there with that and kind of explore it a little. Looser. Yeah, that's such a great piece.

I don't know if that's better, but it's at the point where for better or for worse, I'm comfortable enough to do that. I might be better if I just still wrote 'em out word for word.

Rusty George: So. Well, I think you would be, , that's the feedback I hear . Um, I, I, I think it's a great piece of advice because, , I, as a pastor, I'll write something down, but then unlike the, in the car, I'll say it out loud and.

Oh, that doesn't come off at all. Like I wanted it too, so I can, Yeah, I can tweak that a little bit. So, I mean, it's just weird speaking it out loud to yourself sometimes makes a huge difference.

Andrew Stanley: Well, you immediately know, Oh, that's not how I should say it. If you hear yourself say it, you'll go, Oh, I would never use that word.

So why did I write that word? Right? Because there's some words that you'll write, but you would never really say naturally. So you're like, That sounded weird that I. That that way. So what's the authentic version of me saying the same thing and then usually that's what's better. Right.

Rusty George: Okay. I heard you say on a podcast that comedians find people bombing funnier than actual jokes.

Yes. So I would totally agree with you. In fact, the. Best time I have with my pastor friends is us talking about failures on stage rather than successes. So give us your biggest bomb, , or tell us a favorite one from somebody else. You don't have to mention their name.

Andrew Stanley: Yeah, well, I, I can do both and I will mention their name.

, I, , mine, you know, and, and bombing on stage is something that every comedian does, and as. Get better. Hopefully you do it less and less, but you start out doing it a lot and then this still happens to everybody on any given night, so it helps it, It always goes down a little easier when there are other comedians there because one.

They're loving it. So even if they're loving it for a reason that you're not happy about it, at least somebody's enjoying what you're doing, , because the nature of bombing is usually that no one is enjoying what you're doing. But if there's other comedians in the back of the room, right, there's probably similar to you and your pastor, friends would, they're like, Cuz you know, they can relate to me so much in this moment, and they're dying because they can feel it for.

And they know that how miserable I am , but so much of what I do on the road is by myself. And so a lot of times if, if I have a bad set, I'm just kinda, It's a lot sadder when you're just like, everyone here thinks this is just how it normally goes. I guess like, um, But I kind of had a little bit of a mix of that.

I, I think I've been saying this as my worst bomb, and it's a, it might, I don't know if it's my worst, worst, but it's definitely memorable to me. And it was, , January of 2021 and I got booked to last minute perform at this Burger King . , Award ceremony for this ownership group that owns 2030 Burger Kings in like New England.


Rusty George: hold on. Are there 30 Burger Kings left? Oh

Andrew Stanley: yeah. The Burger King's doing fine, I think. Wow. Okay. You'll start noticing them. . Um, And so it was basically all the just fast food employees, but they were getting brought to this casino in Connecticut for this award ceremony where they were celebrating their numbers or something.

And so it was last minute for me, and so I flew to Connecticut. I land, I realized I haven't had Burger King in 15 years probably, so maybe I should go have Burger King. And so I went and I got a bunch of Burger King ate. Immediately felt terrible, , and went to the casino. Cause I'm staying, you're staying at the, you haven't showed a casino.

It's usually you're staying there. It's a hotel. It's all one place. So I go, um, it's nice and , I go to, the event is starting and I real, and they tell me they gimme the itinerary and it's like four hours. And I am like, I go on at like three hours and 15 minutes into the night , and every 45 minutes is a scheduled smoke break for all the Burger King employees.

So every 45 minutes, everybody leaves the room, goes out and smokes, and then comes back and I'm after the final smoke break is when I start, , and I've, I'm in there the whole night watching. The presenters and the leaders, and it is not a popping room. Nobody is. They're giving out awards and people are just clapping quietly.

And at one point, the thing that made me feel better after my set is they gave away a, a Jaguar to like their top manager or something. And that didn't even get like a big, but I go on stage, they have not mentioned that there's gonna be a comedian until. Before they say my name, they're like, By the way, we have a comedian and his name's Andrew, and here he, And so I'm up on stage and do 35 minutes to just mostly blank stares from these people that didn't even really wanna be here at all anyway.

And, , my, one of my buddies from high school was actually hired to do the photography for the event. And I, as I walked offstage, Just in a daze from just feeling like I was punching a tree with my bare hands. For 35 minutes. He had gone outside, stopped taking pictures and gone to the bar and gotten me a bourbon on the rocks and just handed it to me.

As I was walking off the stage, just like, Yeah, you're gonna need something to to dull this clear pain that, that you just had to go through. Um, and so he wa he's not a comedian, but to have somebody there that in the back of the room, I could see laughing at me. It makes it a little bit easier, but that was one of the toughest shows where I was trying everything and I was doing material and then that wasn't working.

So I tried to talk to the audience and they didn't like they like that even less. So I went back to material and they was like, We still don't like this. And I'm like, Well, what if I try some different types of material? And there's like, Mm. Nope. , and in moments like that, you just gotta find the one person that's at least looking at you and just try to focus on them.

And if you can find a few people that seem to be enjoying it and just focus on them. Then that's the way to go. But, , every now and then you run into one like that.

Rusty George: Yeah. I call that our eight 30 service. That's what I get from them. Yeah. Yeah. I know. It can be like that. They're just angry.

Andrew Stanley: , well, I will tell a friend's bombing story too, if, if we have time.

And it's funny. I'll tell it too and I'll shamelessly plug my own podcast cuz we just had this comedian on this past week. His name's Brian Bates and he is actually one of the co-hosts of Nap Agassi's podcast. They're old friends, but on our podcast we had him tell this story. So if anybody wants to hear the story from his own mouth, you can go listen to.

No worries If not, which is the name of my podcast. Um, but his name is Brian Bates and he's from Tennessee and he's a great standup comedian. Been doing it a long time. And, um, he got hired by this organization in his hometown, um, to, to stand up at this outdoor event. And he said, Okay, I'll do it and I'll invite my mom cuz she never gets to see me.

And so sh her mom, his mom and a bunch of family and people from his hometown came out and part of it was a fundraiser, so they had an auction. Um, but first the guy got on stage and introduced him by, First giving an update on the new tax code for the county. And then they, I think it was a tax increase he announced to everyone.

It was like the, the mayor or somebody was like, Taxes are going up and , here's comedian Brian Bates. And he said, And Brian says he got on stage and it was just you. Probably similar to the Burger King gig. Just swinging him, Miss swinging, him, miss and just embarrassing. And then so he gets off stage and he has to go sit with his mom.

And it's the worst to go sit in the crowd of among the people that just basically said, We don't like you. Um, and to what made this so bad is what happened. Because they, it was an auction, and so Brian had forgotten, but he had given them two CDs of himself to auction off as a part of the fundraiser. And so Brian's like, Well, that was a horrible set, but at least it's over.

And then the guy gets on stage and auctions off a few things and says, And up next we actually have the CD of Brian who just performed. And he, And no one bid . No one bid. And the guy just had to be like, You know what, I'm just gonna keep this one for myself. And then they auctioned off a few more things and then he pulled out the second cd.

Oh no. That they had . And why, Why would you even do that? I think he is. It just kept going. It's one of the most cringy cause in so many levels. One, it's the humiliation of the audience not giving you a good response. Two, you know, a lot of the people in the audience. And three, hey, Do you guys wanna take that thing you didn't like home with you?

And just the two more rejections after the fact. And, , so to me that is one of the best I've ever heard. is really good, man, and Brian is very funny. So don't let, don't, I mean, oh, we all have those, but that was especially painful and relatable to hear him tell that story. So

Rusty George: every comedian has had a heckler before.

, do you have two or three things? You know, in the back of your mind that you're gonna use when a heckler starts coming after you, somebody just thinks they're the, the, the funny one or thinks that, , maybe landlord just has had too much to drink or whatever it is. So what do you do to combat

Andrew Stanley: a heckler?

Yeah, and I think that, I think the general public thinks that this happens more than it actually does. Probably with, with heckler. Heckler are usually just drunk people that are responding verbally to what you say, and they don't. A bad intent really. They're just either they're just being drunk and unaware or in, in some way in their brain.

They think it's very rare to get like a mean spirited heckle. Unless you're some, a comedian that's talking about really controversial issues, then you probably, they probably get a much healthier, um, amount just because there's gonna be people in the audience that really disagree with what they're saying.

Right. And that's where you can get, I think a lot of the, the really problematic. Interactions, but for me, I really have not had too much, um, that I've had to deal with from stage. I think a lot of times, you know, the audience is always gonna be on your side because this person is disrupting the show and so you kinda give them a few chances to calm down on their own.

And then if you're working at a club that's paying attention, then they'll send somebody over to them and say, If you guys talk again, we're gonna have to kick you out. Um, That type of stuff. But I don't really have anything like canned, Like a lot of comedians will have kind of canned responses. They can say, , there's one that , , somebody told me George Wallace used to do, and this is a little bit off color, but he would say, George Wallace is, you know, legendary comedian.

And he would say, How would he phrase it? He would, somebody would be talking. And he'd say, , and he'd say, Shut up. I could be your, I could be your daddy if your mom had had change for a five Oh, my , or some or something. Just so, Oh goodness. Out of nowhere mean and shut. I mean, that was shut somebody down.

And I'm not, I don't have like a bunch of those canned up Yeah. Or anything, but there's. A lot of comedians do have those, but I just have never really needed it. .

Rusty George: I'll keep that one. ,

Andrew Stanley: yeah, feel free to use that

Rusty George: for eight 30 service. Yeah. . That's great. Okay, so you mentioned your podcast. Um, And tell me the name again.

I just downloaded

Andrew Stanley: it, so. Oh, thank you. Appreciate it. We're about to, we're actually about to record one right after we finish. I'm walking over. Oh, good. To the other room to record one. We're interviewing, um, , we're interviewing, Will that be a surprise? But one of the cast members of Stranger Things. Oh.


Rusty George: you finished this season yet?

Andrew Stanley: No, I actually have not watched the new season yet. That's good. So that's good. Probably won't tell him that.

Rusty George: No worries. If not,

Andrew Stanley: no worries if not. It's with my buddy Aaron Tuning, who's a hilarious comedian. He doesn't do a lot of standup, but he's huge on social media and has been, He was, , one of the big Vine guys back in the day.

He was one of their top people. And , now he does a bunch of, um, Video production stuff, freelance and super. Just good. Video guy and really funny and one of my best friends. So we've had a lot of fun doing this for almost a year. That's great.

Rusty George: The website, andrew stanley.com.

Andrew Stanley: Okay. Andrew Stanley comedy.com.

Okay. Um, but you can also visit andrew stanley.com. It is a British photographer, and he's fantastic and super nice. I've talked to him before cause I wanted to buy the domain, um, and he, he's like, Ah, I'm using it. I watched some of your videos, you complimenting. My comedy is super nice, so check out Andrew Stanley comedy.com and Andrew Stanley yes.com for all your comedy

Rusty George: photography needs.

My domain name, Rusty George is owned by an architect. Oh, really? So, , I couldn't get that, but not near as cool as a British photographer. That's awesome.

Andrew Stanley: Yeah. No. Well, Rusty George is such a good name. Is it? But it also feels more unique. Yeah. So I'm surprised. It feels like one you could have gotten. But I guess you're not the only Rusty George out there.


Rusty George: I'm not. , I I thought I had, , I had quarter of the market on that, but not so much. Oh, well, yeah. Amen. This has been great. I would love to have you out, , to our place sometime and we'll work out those details. I know you're gonna be, , on the West coast for some, I at the time, this airs your, your gig in Ontario with the homeschool.

May have already passed. Yeah. Got

Andrew Stanley: it. My final homeschool convention of the year coming up,

Rusty George: so. Well, I know that will be, that'll be

Andrew Stanley: legendary, so. Well, I would love to come out there. That'd be a lot of fun. , and , California is always a fun trip and I usually can make a few days of it. Okay. So that would be a lot of fun.

Rusty George: We'll do it. Well, thank you so much for being on. I really appreciate you and , and for you making us laugh. So thank you Andrew.

Andrew Stanley: Thanks for having me, Rusty.

Rusty George: Well, thank you so much for listening. I so appreciate Andrew being a part of this and congratulations to him. He just got married. We're so happy for him.

And we wanna just thank you guys for sharing and reviewing the podcast. You've been so supportive of it. It's really getting the word out there, which is helping so much. Next week we kick off. A conversation and also launch a brand new product, which is our course called Leading Through Crisis Without Becoming One. And I sit down with our executive pastor as we walk through some of the more painful and difficult things that we've walked through in ministry and the experiences we've had that have allowed us to be able to share some of the things that we've learned along the way so that you don't have to deal with the same pain that we did, and so we wanna make sure that we put that in your hands. And that's coming next week on the podcast. Well as always, share it with a friend rate and review. Thank you so much for listening, and as always, keep it simple.

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Creators and Guests

Rusty George
Rusty George
follower of Jesus, husband of lorrie, father of lindsey and sidney, pastor of real life church
Episode 221: Comedian Andrew Stanley makes being funny simple
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